Monday, September 29, 2008

An Open Letter to the Leaders of Pace High School


Pace High School is known far and wide as being one of the most desirable high schools that any student could possibly attend. Many parents have moved into this area for the single purpose of enrolling their own children in this remarkable school. The appeal of this school is due to the amazing leadership provided by its administrators, staff, faculty, and teachers who hold to a value system that (probably) 90% of the families in this community share.

Now the ACLU is causing you a bit of trouble. That’s okay. We stand with you, by you, and in support of you.

To you, the leaders of Pace High School, I would like to say:

  • Thank you for not being intimidated.
  • Thank you for standing up and stepping up.
  • Thank you for being men & women of integrity.
  • Thank you for doing right when it hasn’t been easy.
  • Thank you for not giving up or losing hope.
  • Thank you for being excellent examples of leadership.
  • Thank you for being the kind of community leaders we are PROUD of.
  • Thank you for helping Santa Rosa County and Pace to be a better place to live.
Thank you for having the courage to LEAD Pace High School in such a way that it is THE SCHOOL whose light shines the brightest in all of Escambia & Santa Rosa County.

Even if the ACLU prevails in this suit, we take comfort in knowing that YOU have been instrumental in shaping this community to be what it is today. For all these many years you have done your job with a standard of excellence, exemplifying what leadership truly is. You have fought the good fight.

We are indebted to you.

Rev. R. E. Christian
Pace Community Church

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Love Bugs



I will be SO glad when love bug season is over. If you invent a cure, I'll buy stock in the company.

Why do these bugs even exist?

Sunday Soundbites.... Amended


Very good day. Attendance was way up, and giving was extra good. In fact, attendance has climbed steadily for the last three weeks by 81 people.

Three people committed to Christ today.

Numerous pray-requests were turned in today too. People are believing God to do stuff.

I’ve got to give a special shout-out to three hard-working individuals who make things happen at PCC:
  • Robert H. put up new light and transformer for the highway sign
  • Paul T. who put up two new informational signs on campus
  • Stan M. who has cut grass all summer
  • Whow!

I have made a discovery about myself and PCC recently. There is more going on at our church than I can keep up with…. And I love it. Yes, we put on a pretty good Sunday service; it’s our main event. But there is so much more going on at PCC behind the scenes that truly makes us who we are. I mean, discipleship stuff is happening in a major way. There is deep fellowship occurring through the formation of long-term friendships. Accountability is practiced through our small groups. Sacrificial living is taking place as believers are “laying down their lives for the brethren” (I John 3:16). Life-change. Numerous events during the week. Trusted leadership. Can-do team-players. We are growing larger and smaller at the same time. Plus, there are multiple shepherds at PCC. For many people at PCC, their weekly calendar revolves around church-related activities and the godly friendships they have formed. Their Christianity has evolved into something more than just merely attending Sunday services - they are living it out during the week.... together. We really are a New Testament Church - dare I say an “Acts Chapter 2 Church?” – in every sense of the Word.

Friday Night Date Night. Our group from Marriage Encounter went out last Friday for “Date Night.” Renae and I tagged along and had a lot of fun. We had dinner at Applebee’s then went to a late-night movie at the Rave. The showing started at 10:00 PM. We watched a movie called “Fireproof.” It was hilarious, sappy, and touching all at the same time. I was especially glad to see 3 or 4 new couples getting involved.

The PCC Riders Motorcycle Club took an overnight trip to Panama City Friday night and all-day Saturday. They always seem to be inviting and bringing new people to church with them.

We have a new college-age group now. Started last month. I think it’s called “Football Frenzy.” Each Saturday the 20-something year-olds gather together in a host home for a 30 minute Biblically-based devotional. Afterwards they watch one of the college football games and hang together most of the day. Aside from meeting an important need in our church family, this group has also been successful in helping new attendees (in that age-group) to plug in. This group is made up of married couples and includes singles.

Was the house packed today, or what? We were 80-90% full in first service.

56 - The Sunday morning teen ministry for 5th-6th graders has tripled in that last three weeks! Thanks to Mary M. for making it happen and being such an engaging leader.

78 - The Sunday morning teen ministry for 7th-8th graders has doubled in the last three weeks! Thanks to Rick H. and Kim U. for an outstanding job. It is obvious that you excel in this role.

The morning message…. "Is Anyone Going to Heaven Because of You?" Points: We are ambassadors for Christ…. We have the ministry (and word) of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:17-21)…. When Jesus saw “their faith” he said “thy sins are forgiven” (Luke 5:20)…. The power of the Lord was present to heal the sick (Luke 5:17).... They "put feet to their faith" by "bringing their friend to Christ." The greatest needs people have are "spiritual" (forgiveness), over physical.

I found out today that one couple in our church has been buying a CD of the morning message every single Sunday for the last eighteen months. They are military and are soon to be transferred. PCC has been such a blessing to them that they regret having to leave. Therefore, they have been buying a CD each week to ensure they have a library of sermons to listen to after their move.

The Tech Team (who work the sound booth and projection) are amazing. They do such an excellent job..... even when they don't know what they are doing. Trust me when I say, we could not do one-half of what we do (on the platform) if it were not for these capable, cooperative, and knowledgeable individuals. We are greatly indebted to you guys.

At PCC, we want to make Jesus famous.

My wife is courageous.

Going Green to the Extreme





Tree-huggers gone mad. What nincompoops!

BTW - How do they know the trees even speak English?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Leadership Principles You Can Take to the Bank

  • If a church targets young people (in music, ministry style, programming, etc) it will attract both young and old alike. But if a church targets old people, the reverse is not true; it will not attract young people.

  • If you have a mission, vision, and leadership structure in place, (and written down), then 95% of the decisions for the church have already been decided.

  • It takes only a few people to lead a church. But it takes a lot of people to do the work of the church.

  • Groups come up with ideas the best. Individuals make decisions the best.

  • At the end of the day it all boils down to two things: Jesus and people.


Is Anyone Going to Heaven Because of You?


Can you imagine the courage it takes to walk into a church for the first time? Or the first time in twenty years? What is it like to for an unchurched person to walk into a room full of strangers to explore a God that they are not even sure is there? Think about that for a moment.

I feel that very tension every Sunday because I know there are people who have just walked through our doors who have not been in a church for decades. Or perhaps, they have shown up deciding to give God just one more try. This is why it is absolutely essential that we put a guard on our lips and be very, very careful that we don’t hinder God’s work in their life; because we can “quench a smoking flax.”

I assure you, if you spend a great deal of time investing yourself into the life of a person who is far from God, and you finally succeed in getting that person to church for the first time, you will be PRAYING TO GOD that your church gets it right.

This Sunday’s message will be “Is Anyone Going to Heaven Because of You?

Let’s get serious about the spiritual destiny of our family members.

PS - Even if the sermon bombs out, the weather is going to be gorgeous. So it will be a great day to be in church. Hope you see you there!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Stupid, Useless Facts About Me


The following is a list of useless, stupid facts about me that you didn’t know, or probably don’t even care about. They will not help you, change your life, or give you any biblical insight. They are stupid. But hey, you are the one that's reading this stuff.
  • I liked Disco music when it came out in the late 70’s… for about sixty seconds. I’m glad it’s gone. I'm still a rocker at heart.

  • I’ve got about 10 pounds that will not come off. This is killing me.

  • I fell out of a boat once and it ran me over - hit me in the head. That’s why I act the way I do.

  • I like the theme song to Cheers.

  • I don’t like any rock music written after 1979. Except for Christian music, I don’t even know any rock music written after 1979.

  • I saw Alice Cooper in concert once. He had a giant boa constrictor snake wrapped around his neck while he sang. But I can’t remember what decade it was; much less what year.

  • If I never hear the song, “Smoke On The Water” again for the rest of my life, it will still be too soon. I hope they don’t play it in heaven.

  • Kenny Chesney is a sissy. He can sing good, but he can’t dance. The corniest song I have ever heard in my life is - “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy.” Can anyone sing that song with a straight face?

  • White men can’t dance. That’s all there is to it.

  • I became a business owner the first time at age 29. After that experience, I’ve always felt like an entrepreneur.
  • The smell of liver makes me sick. The odor will gag a maggot.

  • I didn’t make very good grades in school. Some of my teachers even hated me. I got no fewer than twenty-five whippings with a wooden paddle while in school – beginning at the fourth grade and continuing up through the tenth grade. By the 11th grade, they just gave up. I guess they considered me to be incorrigible.

  • It’s a good thing Jesus saved me, or I would still be sitting the principle’s office.

  • I’m reluctant to go out into the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico; especially with any of these local weekend-warrior boat-captains. They don’t know what they’re doing. And besides, there’s stuff out there that can eat you whole.
  • When I was in basic training in the US Army, three guys jumped me and I was knocked out. I thought I could handle them on my own. I found out I couldn’t.

  • I love snow skiing.

  • Renae and I are due for a two-day get-away. But I’m not going to tell you where we are going. If I do, some of you might show up!


  • I exercise five days a week. I take off on Wednesday and Sunday.

  • My flat-screen plasma TV is awesome! Now that football season is here, all I can say is “oh yea” with a deep bass voice.
  • I found a new scar on my body the other day. I don’t know where it came from; it’s unaccounted for. I wonder what I was doing when that happened? Was I even awake?

  • I never even turned a computer on until I was 40 year old.

  • I use one foot for driving, not two.

  • Renae and I have been married for 27 years. I married up when I found her. Glad she said yes.

  • I can make some awesome guacamole dip. Just ask Renae.

  • I eat hot peppers right out the jar.

  • I never eat spicy food on Saturday night. I don’t want to be caught on the platform on Sunday morning with a boiling stomach.

  • I’m thinking about getting a pair of eye-glasses like Sarah Palin has. Apparently they are in style now.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Quarrelsome Anger Disqualifies One From Ministry


Have you ever seen someone self-destruct because of anger? Maybe it was in a marriage, on the job, or in a friendship. Not a pretty sight. Is it?

Over the years I have seen a number of people lose their ministry because of anger. Not an anger incident, but rather a deep, abiding, unresolved anger that constantly simmered and eventually erupted in a meltdown.

In I Timothy 3 the Bible describes the qualifications for church overseers and deacons. In this list of qualifications the paramount issue is ones character. A man is qualified because of what he is (in character), not because what he does, the ministry he leads, or the title he has been given. And these Biblical standards for leadership are non-negotiable.

In the middle of this list, verse 3 states that such a person should be “no striker” (KJV) or “not quarrelsome” (NIV) – meaning he is not a fist fighter, prone to unrighteous anger, or argumentative. You simply cannot be an elder, pastor, church leader, or even a ministry leader if you have an anger problem or angry disposition; it is a ministry-disqualifier. “No Striker” is where we get our modern day word “pugnacious” which means, “giver of blows.” An overseer/deacon is not quick-tempered and must be able to handle things with a cool mind and a gentle spirit.

Can you see why this is such an important character trait for those who would be in the ministry? To put an angry man or woman in charge of anything inside the church would be disastrous.

Someone might say, “Well he only blows up once in a while.” This is, however, evidence of a character flaw, rather than an occasional error in judgment. Would you buy a home near a volcano that “only blows up once in a while?” Argumentative people with angry dispositions are ineligible for ministry because they injure and are harmful to God’s family.

  • Anger stirs up strife and causes one to abound in transgressions according to Proverbs 15:18 and 29:22.

  • Wrath, a form of anger, is contained in the list of “works of the flesh” found in Galatians 5:19-21, and keeps people out of the kingdom of God.

  • God’s servants must not be quarrelsome (2 Timothy 2:24-25).

  • Anger is self-destructive. Job 5:2 says, Resentment kills a fool, and envy slays the simple (NIV)

It is impossible for an angry leader to continue in ministry. Here's why:

  • God will remove him/her
  • They will be removed by godly overseers in the church
  • They will have an unfruitful ministry and will simply quit
  • Or they will self-destruct

One way or another, there is simply no long-term furture for such person. Barren branches is what they become. I’ve seen more than one ministry go down in a spectacle of flames because of anger.

Consider what Solomon said - Proverbs 22:24-25 (NIV) 24 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, 25 or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared
.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Disunity & Surviving Ministry


Sometimes the people you help the most appreciate it the least.
Jesus healed ten lepers, and only one of them – a foreigner of all things – came back to thank Him (Luke 17:11-19). When Paul was a prisoner in Rome, some of the Roman Christians, instead of encouraging him, tried to make things more difficult for him (Philippians 1:12-21). Moses had so much trouble with people that one day he asked God to take his life because he’d had enough (Numbers 11).

Most people think of a heretic only as somebody who teaches false doctrine. But the word translated “heresy” in the New Testament comes from a Greek word that means “to choose sides.” This word describes someone who seeks an office and campaigns for votes by asking people “Are you with me or against me?” This kind of willful attitude causes division in the body. When we take the “we-verses-they” approach, we may become heretics ourselves; instead of solving a problem we only make it worse.

Very few Christians divide over doctrine. Most differences center on personalities, methods of ministry, allocation of resources, leadership decisions, or other non-theological matters. The big problem, of course, is we all think we have the right answer, and we’re prepared to defend our “spiritual convictions.” For instance, let a church receive a large bequest from a will, and the potential for trouble is astronomical. Everyone has their own idea of how it should be used - for a new paved parking lot, for missions, to renovate the kitchen, or to build a gym. And when you add in the implied threats such as “if you don’t do this, my family and I will leave,” you have the potential for real trouble (or what the Bible calls heresy). These are the kinds of issues that most often create the "we-verses-them" approach, or a "choose sides" posture. Division is heresy.

You and I don’t have to manufacture unity in the church because it’s already there. We are one in Christ (Gal. 3:28) and the spiritual oneness of the body is a miracle of God’s grace (Eph.4:1-6). But we do have an obligation to maintain the unity that Jesus died to create – “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). Disunity is a sin and has no place in a NT church.

The Bible states, "24 And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth," (2 Timothy 2:24-25 NIV). Always follow the instruction of this passage. In the end, if quarrelsome people don't repent, they must live with the fact that they were the ones who broke unity.

William Barclay wrote, “Pride is the ground in which all other sins grow, and the parents from which all other sins come.” Among the sins that God hates the most, pride heads the list (Proverbs 6:16-17). The trouble is, pride sometimes masquerades as religious zeal or spirituality; and even the most biased or bigoted of believers can be mistaken for devoted defenders of the faith.

So what is a servant supposed to do? Those of us who are ministers of Christ should strive to minister like Christ. He helped multitudes of people who never accepted His message. When He healed the ten lepers, only one bothered to thank Him. He laid down His life for people who never agreed with Him.

In your service, no matter how painful or disappointing it may seem to you, it’s not being wasted. God is building your character while He is building His church, and what He does will last forever.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Being "Cool" is Not Our Main Attraction


I believe, and always have, that God has called PCC to be a real church made up of real people - not to be a cool church. While we are progressive, we have never tried to use cool as our main attraction. We have always stuck to the basics while honoring Christ in a progressive environment. In fact, one of our core values is to be authentic – no pretense, no pretending to be super spiritual, no false piety, no trying to be cool.

We have always emphasized relationships – with God and with each other – authenticity.

When we first started PCC we didn’t even have a web site. I didn’t own a computer; in fact, I had never even turned one on. I used a typewriter to prepare sermon notes. We didn’t have a budget. Renae played on a plastic keyboard. During the song service we used an overhead projector with transparency slides to project the words. We were a brown-bag operation in every sense of the word. Other churches were leap-years ahead of us in technology, resources, staff, and facilities. But underneath the surface of our simplicity, we just tried to be real. We stuck to the basics – kind of a “meat and potatoes” church service. We offered worship music, Biblical teaching, and something for the kids on Sunday morning. We didn’t take ourselves too seriously, but we have always taken God (and His Word) very seriously. And we grew in an authentic manner - reaching the lost - which is authentic kingdom advancement.

Now we have our own building, and state-of-the-art technology. Some people might consider us to be a “cool” church. But the constant value that we have maintained through the years - the “brown bag” days and up to this day - is authenticity. That’s why we have grown, and it explains why we are are STILL GROWING. We grow IN SPITE OF our enviroment.

Let me explain a little more….

Church leaders are prone to believe that certain things will cause people to keep coming back to a church once they start attending.

For example, being relevant. Or being “cool.” Or having great music or great preaching, or a great children’s ministry, teen ministry, or a great production each week. Will good coffee do it? Great facilities? What makes church compelling enough to come back to?

To be fair, all those things DO matter to some extent. But cool doesn’t last. The video game you bought for your 12 year old was totally cool twelve months ago, but now sits in a pile on the garage floor for the next garage sale.
  • Most restaurants have better restrooms than the average church
  • The mall is more attractive to teenagers than a typical church
  • i Tunes has better music than most churches
  • Even the radio has better music than most churches

So what makes people stick in churches? Answer: Relationships - authentic relationships with God, and authentic relationships with people.

That's why none of our ministries are built on the “class room,” false piety, or academia. Rather our ministries are built upon groups, i.e., small groups, ministry groups, fellowship groups, discipleship groups, Bible study groups, etc, - with groups being the operative word.

We have used this strategy since day one: We want to GROW LARGER and SMALLER at the same time - Larger in the weekend services, and small through small groups.

It takes a great deal of effort to pull this off. We want visitors and guests to walk through our doors for the very first time EVERY single SUNDAY. So we’ll keep cleaning toilets, presenting out-of-the-ballpark music that makes goose bumps stand up all over your skin, and offering first-class children and teen’s ministries as an attraction. We’ll use state-of-the-art technology for ministry effectiveness. We WILL do everything we can to make a positive first impression and hopefully cause the “wow” factor. If that makes us cool, that’s okay too.

But above all, we will continue to prioritize relationships – our relationship with God and with each other. That is what causes people to stick together for the long haul.

After all, that's what a family does.

22,000


Twenty-Two Thousand Hits!


Next milestone? 25

Thanks for checking in.

Sunday Smack Down

Let me begin with a prayer. “God, I don’t’ know why You have allowed me to lead PCC. Apparently You have seen something in me that I’ve never seen in myself. Or perhaps it is the people – You knew they were just the right people for me. Either way, I recognize that it is Your wisdom that has put all this together. For the changed-lives, the good people of PCC, the kingdom-impact, to the sheer enjoyment of it all, I want to say ‘thank You.’ I will never take this for granted.”

Okay, let’s talk smack:

  • Attendance jumped about 50 people today. Where are all these people coming from?

  • Giving was good today too.
  • First-service was literally wall-to-wall people. Man, we need some room. Perhaps 75 of you could commit to the second service.

  • The second service has critical mass, and is larger than some other churches I know. It really is a second congregation. But it lacks the energy (synergy) of the first service. Some of you sold-out-for-Jesus raving-disciples could inject some much needed enthusiasm. Give it some consideration.

  • Was the music blow-your-socks-off good today, or what? I just wanted to unstrap my guitar and run the isle.

  • Okay, we cannot keep up with the demand for the free sermon, “Facing Eternity.” They flew off the shelf today within 5 minutes. We will have more out next Sunday. My wish is that hundreds of these CDs will penetrate the community…. And we are well on our way to accomplishing that. This sermon/testimony will touch people for years to come… and only God knows the kingdom impact it will have.

  • And what about this mornings message? I especially enjoyed the part about “shopping for a church.” You were there, you know what happened. I blogged about this once. You can read it here: http://www.ronniechristian.com/2008/08/okay-im-coming-out-swinging-today.html

  • The Most important part of the message? Probably the part of “crisis” – when one member suffers we all suffer (I Cor. 12:25-26).


  • Have you noticed that since we put up our new sign on the highway, we DON’T have our service times listed on any other signage? That’s right. Yet people keep coming. Why is that? It has to be a God-thing. BTW, we have remedied the problem – we had three signs made that has the information provided (service times, phone number, and web site) – now we just have to get them put up. Should be done within a week or two. Any volunteers for this?

  • Next Sunday’s message – “Is Anyone Going to Heaven Because of You?” Sure to be challenging, informative, and inspirational all at the same time.

  • Somebody said to me today, “I am very proud of our church… and I like inviting and bringing people to it.” Yea God!

  • Had a long talk with Scott & Cathy D. today after church. We simply visited. It was good to catch up.

  • I had lunch with a local pastor two weeks ago. He spoke some unfiltered truth into my life over Mexican food.

  • One of the greatest issues I’m wrestling with right now is falling back into my old leadership habits. That is, my tendency is to work too much, rather than smarter. I allow my plate to get filled up and up and up. I’m not proud of that. I’ve done a good job over the years of delegating almost everything I do. But every time I turn around new responsibilities emerge (after all, we are a growing church) that need attention and my tendency is to do what has worked for me in the past – just do it myself. I’ve learned my lesson before and will not make that mistake again.

  • Right now, Renae and 30 other people are on a Sunday afternoon canoe trip and I’m home alone. Quiet house.

  • Did you notice the man come to the altar in first service today? No invitation, he just came. He was desperate for God.

  • God is doing stuff at PCC.

  • I’ve been teaching Seminar 101 for ten years. I still enjoy it.

  • I listened to a Leadership Lecture by Andy Stanley yesterday. Awesome.

  • I’m going to be teaching a message series on “Spiritual Warfare” soon. It might be next.

  • God’s Kingdom is present whenever and wherever God is having His way. The kingdom of God is when He is allowed to reign and rule in our lives. Again, God is doing stuff at PCC.

  • It has come to my attention that someone (out there in church land) is actually hoping that PCC will fail and that I will be ruined. Furthermore, they might even be actively working towards that end, because they are "speaking words of death" from their tongue. I’ve just got one thing to say, “the Lord reward you according to your works” (2 Timothy 4:14-15).

  • Here’s it is: 2 Timothy 4:14-15 (NIV) 14 Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. 15 You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.

  • I might blog about this passage this week.

  • And for the record - as long as God is on the throne, and Jesus is building the church, and godly people are praying for their pastor, and I’m surrounded by such a high caliber group of colleagues, PCC will never go under. Even if I blow it (personally), this church is bigger than me and any one else for that matter. Like it or not, this church is a God-thing and "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Just because someone out there is bitter doesn’t mean that God shares their opinion. The very idea....

  • One thing I’m certain of: If I can get the right people around the table with me (or without me), we’ll be fine.

  • We had about ten more membership applications turned in today.

  • The economy is bad, but God is still in control. His work continues in good times, bad times, and at ALL times. Now is not the time to slack up. In fact, now is the time to step up. Give to God according to your need, and God will give to you according to your need. See Malachi 3.

  • When I get to heaven, I don’t want to hear Jesus say, “Well read” or “Well informed.” I want to hear Him say, “Well DONE, thou good and faithful servant.”


  • At PCC we are producing disciples who DO STUFF, not those who only know stuff.

  • We have some end-of-the-year initiatives still in the “idea” stage right now. If we go forward with this, it is going to be awesome.

  • Florida State University lost the game Saturday. I really hate that. I hope they turn it around and have a good season this year. My youngest son and Greg G. were at the game. Thanks Greg for taking him.

  • If you want to be like Christ, expect controversy. In fact, you’ve got get comfortable with it. Controversy is a sign of progress, and it is a training ground for greater things. God uses it to develop you and promote you. When it comes, embrace it and learn from it.

  • I’m having a blast! These are amazing days at PCC… some of the best in our ten years of our being together. I am having a blast providing the day-to-day leadership with a young and energized team of colleagues. Fasten your seat belts as we move into our God-guided future together.


Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday Five


1. I am excited about the message this Sunday: “Your Church – An Extended Family.” I plan to open up and share my heart in a very personal way.

2. Next Sunday, “Is Anyone Going to Heaven Because of You?”

3. Our mid-week age-level ministries ROCK. The children’s ministry is off-the-chart right now. In fact, almost every single child who attends the Sunday morning children’s ministry,(i.e., “Rock Solid”), is now also attending the Wednesday evening event. I mean, Cathy D. and her team are doing the smack-down and making it happen!................The teen ministry is busting loose like crazy too. Last Wednesday night there was an all-time high attendance. Wow! Renae has put together two exceptional teams of first-class workers – one is a teaching team, and the other is like a “community life” team. The members on the teaching team take turns on a rotating schedule as they go through the of I Samuel chapter-by-chapter. The community life team helps with logistics, such as event-planning, supplies, recreation, special demonstrations, etc, and also serves in a mentoring capacity with the teens. They are calling it the "Be With Factor" - that is, just be with the kids as you provide Biblical training and spiritual mentoring. Of course, there is a cross-over, or an overlap, of responsibilities in these two teams. At the end of the day, everyone does what needs to be done – simply because they love God and love the teenagers.

4. I have received some wonderful letters of encouragement this week.

5. We anticipate a full house this Sunday.

I Am Having a Blast!


Have I mentioned lately that I am having a blast? These are amazing days at PCC… some of the best in our ten years of being together. I am having a blast providing the day-to-day leadership with an energized team of colleagues. Fasten your seat belts as we move into our God-ordained future together.

Swatting at Gnats


I heard T.D. Jakes tell a story one time. He traveled to another church to preach a series of sermons there. The pastor of the church picked him up at the airport. As they were riding along through the city, the pastor began to tell T.D. Jakes about all the problems and criticisms he was facing. “Sister so-and-so said this.” And “Brother so-and-so said that.” On and on it went. T. D. Jakes listened in silence as the pastor told his tale of woe.

Finally Bishop Jakes spoke up and said, “You can wreck this car by swatting at gnats.” It took a minute to sink in, but the pastor finally got it – if he took his eye off the highway because he was swatting at gnats, which were nothing more than little nuisances, he would wreck the car. Likewise, in church work, you can focus on every little problem or complainer, and miss the big picture. By trying to put out every little brush fire, you can never get the church “on fire.” By focusing on nuisances, they become magnified. It’s best to ignore them.

Nehemiah said it best…. “I AM DOING A GREAT WORK, so that I cannot come down: WHY SHOULD THE WORK CEASE, while I leave it, and come down to YOU? (Nehemiah 6:3).

Follow your vision and conviciton.... not the opinion polls.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Measured of God


We are always being measured: God is measuring us, and people are measuring us. When it comes to evaluating Christian service and servants, other people can make mistakes, and we can make mistakes. Most Christian workers are prone to think either more highly of themselves than they should (Romans 12:3), or less than they should. Both attitudes are wrong.

God is the only One who can measure us and our work accurately, but He doesn’t always tell us what He thinks. John the Baptist thought for sure that he had been a failure (Matthew 11:1-9), and more than once Moses wanted to quit because he was sure he couldn’t endure another day of listening to people complain.

When God wants to encourage you, and let you know you are measuring up, here’s what He will do:

#1. He will prompt other people to encourage you. Just when you feel like you have blown it, and when you least expect it, some person will walk up to you and say, “thanks.” Maybe they will send an e-mail, letter, or give you a phone call. That is God’s way of communicating to you that you are “measuring up.”

In my office I have a file that contains dozens of letters of encouragement that have come to me in just the nick of time. They are treasures to me. And this doesn’t even count the hundreds (maybe thousands) of phone calls, e-mails, and verbal communications of encouragement I have received over the years. I don’t recommend you start a scrapbook, or a fan club, but do be thankful for these honest expressions of gratitude and accept them humbly as from the Lord. When God prompts people to encourage you, it is His way of encouraging you Himself.

#2. New doors of opportunity will open for you. Another evidence that you have been measured and approved of God is when new doors of opportunity open for you. If you have been faithful with a few things, God will give you more things. Of course, that means more work; but God has measured you and is sure you can do it. I’ve experienced this in my own life, and as a pastor, it is very exciting to watch other faithful servants grow and expand their ministry to the glory of God.

“Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord” (Matthew 25:12).

#3. Fruitfulness. As any vineyard or orchard owner knows, dried up, dead branches do not produce fruit. On the other hand, if the branches are healthy and properly connected to the vine, they will produce fruit as healthy as the vine to which they are attached. In the same manner, if you are properly connected to Christ your ministry and life will produce spiritual fruit (St. John 15:1-8). This too is evidence that you measure up and it’s God’s way of validating your ministry.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

When God Calls You to Service


When God called Moses into the ministry (Exodus 3-4), Moses resisted the call because he didn't feel he could do what God wanted him to do. He asked, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?" (Exodus 3:11). Moses argued that he was "slow of speech and slow of tongue"(Exodus 4:10), and God reminded Moses that He had made his tongue and could easily teach him what to say!

Such resistance or hesitancy to answer a call is normal. After all, it's an awesome thing to be God's servant and to do His will.

Now, it's one thing to resist God's call and quite another to refuse it. That's what Jonah did, and he paid a price for it.

To be an effective servant of God, remember these three truths:

#1 - If God has called you, He hasn't made a mistake
. He knows what He's doing, even if you don't. The best thing you can do is gratefully submit to His will and trust Him to do His work. God prepares those who He calls, and you will always be a work-in-progress. God sees something in you (that you don't see in yourself) and He knows what you can become and what you are able to accomplish. Like Gideon, He can turn a nobody into a somebody.

#2 - If God has called you, just be yourself.
One of the biggest mistakes in ministry (of any kind) is that servants try to be somebody they are not. Perhaps they want to imitate one of the big boys. Or maybe they allow the expectations of other people to manipulate them into becoming a person they are not. Listen, you are unique just like you are. God has wired you a certain way, and prefers that you serve Him that way. To be sure, we can learn from other people. Additionally, we all still have more growing to do, and this involves change in our character, etc. But God forbid that we should become a facsimile of someone else!

#3 - Build on your strengths, and ask God for helpers to compensate for your weaknesses.
Nobody is perfect, and no one person can do everything. Moses had his brother and sister for assistants. His father-in-law became an advisor. Moses appointed captains over different sized groups of people (10's, 50's, 100's, etc) to help with the volume of demands on his time. And you too will need someone to assist you to compensate for the things you can't do.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Growing Churches



Growing churches have exciting worship

Growing churches have soul-stirring music

Growing churches are constantly changing

Growing churches use a Biblical structure

Growing churches have lots of noisy children & youth

Growing churches are constantly improving for the future

Growing churches move out in faith

Growing churches focus on people

Growing churches are filled with generous givers

Growing churches offer teaching & preaching that trains people to do stuff

Growing churches evangelize, while others fossilize

Monday, September 15, 2008

Going Public with a Problem


Dear pastors & church leaders,

When facing a problem in your church, it is a mistake to avoid confronting the issue head on. And sometimes these problems need to be confronted publicly - plenty of scripture bears this out.

When something is not right in the church and church leaders don’t acknowledge it, or “own” it, many people will lose confidence in that leader. They will assume the leader doesn’t know what’s going on, or either doesn’t have the courage to address it.

Let me pause here to say – church leadership is hard work. You can’t do this line of work because of a written job description, or because of a salary. The written job description does not provide motivation, and no amount of pay is worth it. It takes a “call of God,” and a God-given love for the church to face these things head-on.

I think people would rather have a church leader “tell it like it is” with a little backbone, rather than spreading a thin Christian-glaze over an issue, pretending it’s not so bad. Truthfully acknowledging (or dealing with) a problem is always better than pretending a problem does not exist. I mean, when it is necessary to go public, do so - answer questions, share information, be open, show documentation, open the books, and be absolutely truthful, honest, and above reproach.

I have had many seasons in my ministry in which I have had to go public with a problem. One time, I had fourteen-hour days for two solid weeks (including weekends) as I met with people to answer questions to clarify an issue. I literally had more than forty meetings during that period. In addition, I made dozens of phone calls, had lengthy conversations, held public meetings, group meetings, and private meetings in my office. I even dropped in to a couple of our small groups to address the issue and answer questions. I went on the offense to deal with an offence, and I was proactive rather than reactive.

The end result? To-the-person, those who accepted my invitation to meet with me were satisfied with our handling of the matter. Our congregation appreciated my honesty, integrity, and transparency. They were thankful to be included. When they got correct information straight from the horses’ mouth, (not what they had “heard” second-hand), the matter simply resolved itself. Misinformation and rumor became obvious to them. They realized their church leaders did know what was going on and had the courage to deal with it. In short order we got healed and moved on. It just took some serious “the-buck-stops-here” attitude to take care of the matter.

In difficult seasons of church life it is so easy to do nothing and simply assume “God will work it out,” when in fact, God may be waiting for the church leaders to work it out. (Hello, that’s one of the reasons He called you pastor - to “manage the church” I Timothy 3:4-5). Some leaders are so terrified of conflict that they will do anything to avoid it. They will over-spiritualize the problem, couching it in spiritual-sounding language and sound very pious when they do. Their only goal is to pursue peace "at all costs." Fatal mistake. Meanwhile, the abscess continues to fester when it actually needs to be lanced.

Peace “at all costs” sounds like a lofty idea, but in reality is not peace at all. It is simply conflict delayed. Better to deal with it up front. A lanced wound heals much quicker than one that is not.

When scandals or problems are handled poorly, confidence is eroded. Instead, be courageous, open, honest, full of integrity, transparent, and full of wisdom. A clear conscience is a fierce thing to come into contact with - and your oppontents will quickly figure that out. Always stand for truth. Always.

Courageously dealing with a problem is one of the most refreshing characteristics that godly leaders can possess.


The Wrong Reason to Plant a Church


The only valid reason for planting a new church is to evangelize a community and make disciples from new believers. But you would be surprised how often churches get planted for other reasons - to “teach” every week, to lead a revolt against another church, to satisfy ones ego, to do something with prestige, to educate Christians, or to have a title.

But without a real passion for sharing the Gospel with an unbelieving community, (Jesus called them “scattered sheep having no shepherd” Matt. 9:36), church planting is futile. Without the courage to preach Christ crucified to those who do not yet believe, it’s purely recreational.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday Debrief

  • Awesome day! Attendance was good, giving was good, and a ton of visitors. Where do all these people keep coming from?

  • According to the commitment cards turned in, at least eight people committed (or renewed their commitment) to Christ today. Blows me away.

  • The message today was a STRONG WORD. We talked about “getting your family in church and keeping them there” by looking at some potent passages of scripture. I talked a little longer than normal, about 40-45 minutes; but people were eating it up. We hammered down on the responsibility of parents AND the responsibility of children. All I can say is wow.

  • The impromptu talk from three weeks ago (Facing Eternity) is flying off the shelf. We are duplicating this message and putting them out for free. We can’t keep up with the demand. Next Sunday will have 75-100 CDs available at the welcome center.


  • It was good to have Twila M. and Cindy M. back in service today.

  • I thought our song service was good today. It was mostly acoustic-driven. It felt good for a different “feel.” Worship was good too. The men did a good job singing. It was nice to have a few new faces on stage as well.

  • WE HAVE A GREAT CHURCH. Know why? When you are committed to the Greatest Commandment and the Great Commission, it has the blessing of God upon it and results in a Great Church.

  • Held our 101 Seminar tonight. It was, by far, one of the best we’ve ever hosted. I think there were 54 in attendance. There are so many new (and neat people) calling PCC their home. We really are in a new season.

  • The hospitality team rolled out the red carpet and put on an impressive display. Thanks to Kim, Barbara, Evelyn, Paul, Sharon, Donna, (and everyone else who’s name I am overlooking. Sorry, please forgive me). You people are the best.

  • Thanks to Lou & Loraine for manning the nursery and supervising the children’s dinner time. It was absolutely essential what you did tonight. Also, thanks for the prayers. You guys are top-notch.

  • Thanks to Cathy, Sidney, Renae, and Gene for helping to “work the room” and being in a support capacity. I think it is important that newcomers meet our staff and other key people at PCC in an informal environment like 101.

  • Someone suggested that we bring back our “Newcomers Coffee” again. We used to host this in my home. But it got too big. We haven’t done it in 1 ½ years. Coincidentally, I’ve been thinking about this myself. We could host it at the church in the atrium. Perfect place, perfect environment. It could serve as a prelude to Seminar 101.

  • How about those new stage-lights in this morning’s service? Let there be light! I mean, brighten up the house. It felt good.

  • Had a tough conversation with someone this afternoon. I said, “You need to sit down.” It went downhill from there.

  • Seminar 101 is one of the most successful things we have done over our ten-year history. Know why? It not only defines who we are and what we do, it also serves as a SIFTING TOOL that separates the people who WON’T fit in with us from those who will. I don’t mind saying, “we are not for everyone” – and we’re not, because a lot of people come in with baggage from other churches. But 98% of the people who take 101 make a commitment to membership. If we handed out meaningless memberships like other churches (such as simply “transferring” your membership papers from one place to another), that 2% would give us more grief than they are worth. Better to nip it in the bud up front.

  • I met some amazing couples in 101 tonight too. Especially the young adults – they are looking for spiritual leadership and godly influence. “God, thank You for allowing me (and others) to have such a small part in this work.”

  • Our small groups right now are off-the-chart. Our leaders are first-class, high caliber, and trustworthy. What this means to me, you’ll never know.

  • We have a young adult, college-age, small group that really ROCKS.

  • I’m glad Hurricane Ike missed NW Florida. It could have been very bad for us.

  • I’m ticked off about the gas prices. Aren’t you?

  • TWO DROWNINGS took place at Pensacola Beach today about 6:00 PM. My oldest son, JONATHAN, was involved in the second incident. He actually rescued and saved two of the children from drowning. He was unable to save the third person. He watched the man go under and not come back up. This is messing with his mind right now. Not only that, the rip tide caught Jonathan and he almost went under himself. His rescue effort lasted fifteen minutes – that’s a long time to be in the water fighting the current.

  • The ministry teams at PCC are the best in our ten-year history. Not only do they get the job done, but the people are absolutely a joy to serve with. I could not be happier, and more proud of a group of people than I am of every one of you.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

More Pictures



Pensacola Beach pier








Thanks John W. for the pics

Friday, September 12, 2008

Surf's Up


Renae and I went to Pensacola Beach Friday evening after work. The surf was up and the wind was blowing pretty hard due to hurricane Ike (making landfall in Texas). In fact, the sand was blistering our face. We lasted less than five minutes out in the open.


How bout that "do?" It's a wind-swept look from the 50's.

Click onto the picture to enlarge (if you need more).

Evangelism Verses Discipleship


Which is most important – evangelism or discipleship? It seems to me that people have a tendency to elevate the importance of one over the other. In reality, both are inseparable. You cannot be faithful to the Great Commission and not do both.

FACT: Discipleship always BEGINS WITH evangelism. If you don’t reach lost people, then who do you disciple? The same people over and over again? To what point?

CONSIDER THESE TWO EXTREMES:

Some churches have a tendency to focus primarily on growing believers… to the point of neglecting evangelism. Is church supposed to be like that? A place where we turn our backs on the lost and then our churches turn into some kind of holy huddle where outsiders are not welcome? You know, me, my four, and no more. That's smells like spiritual elitism.

The other extreme is that some churches focus solely on outreach and evangelism, without any type follow up (such as Bible classes, personal mentoring, accountability groups, small groups, etc) to produce lasting commitment. Churches like this are ineffective in leading people into a deeper walk with Christ.

Instead of choosing one over the other, we at Pace Community Church FOCUS ON BOTH simultaneously. Evangelism and discipleship work hand-in-hand with each other. We have been that way since day-one. That’s why we have such a strong, healthy, and growing church.

Healthy New Testament churches will always have in their pews:
  • Not-yet believers
  • New believers
  • Growing believers
  • Mature believers
As we have done our best at fulfilling the Great Commission and the Greatest Commandment, we have seen both seekers and believers in our midst for more than ten years. IT IS the RESPONSIBILITY of the church to PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES to BOTH groups of people so they can follow Christ.

Evangelism and discipleship are not mutually exclusive. They are inseparable.

This Sunday at PCC



Seminar 101 takes place this Sunday. More that 50 people are planning to attend. Wow!

New Message Series Begins this Sunday: CHURCH & FAMILY

Part 1 - "Get Your Family in Church and Keep Them There"

Part 2 - "Your Church - An Extended Family"

Part 3 - "Is Anyone Going to Heaven Because of You?"

Thursday, September 11, 2008

21,000!

The Church of "Adullam"


David did not chose to live in the wilderness. But he had no where else to go after Saul had isolated him from his family, ended his military career, and banned him from the palace.

David ended up in a place called the “Cave of Adullam.” It was here, in this wilderness cave that he began to gather a congregation of followers. David became a magnet for those who were "in distress, or in debt, or discontented” (I Samuel 22:2). Not exactly a model congregation. Yet the Bible says “They came to David…. to help him, until it was a great army, like the army of God” (I Chronicles 12:22 NKJV).

Do you know what the name Adullam means? It means a place of refuge. It was in this place of refuge, while David sought the Lord, that God began to gather together a band of rag-tag undesirables that eventually became an army of God.

That’s my prayer for Pace Community Church – Let us be a CHURCH of ADULLAM. A place of refuge for everyone who is in distress, in debt, or discontented. Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31-32 NIV). Let us, (like David), become a magnet for all those hurting people that no one else wants. I’m willing to do the messy business of soul winning and discipleship – one life at a time.

Strong churches are built from people who were once “in distress, debt, and discontent” themselves. Do you remember being there? God took your life and turned it around. He took a nobody and turned you into a somebody. Now you are planted in a good church family.

Or Perhaps you are feeling down on your luck today. Do you see yourself as damaged goods? Instead of wandering in the wilderness for another day, come and find what you need in God’s presence and among others just like yourself.

Welcome to the “Church of Adullam.”

Picture of the Day




Can you guess which picuture is of the rock band "The Rolling Stones?"

Cracked me up.

Thanks Robert Pooley for the great pic.

I Am Jacked Up!


This Sunday’s message is entitled, “Get Your Family in Church and Keep Them There.” You will be inspired, moved, ticked-off, made to laugh, and convicted. Truths that you already know to be true will be reaffirmed. This message is sure to be a trigger for life-change.

Every PARENT and every TEENAGER should be in service this Sunday.

Compel them to come.

Invite your friends, bring your family, load up the car, and let's pack the house.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The People of PCC Are Amazing

  • I am glad to be the lead pastor at PCC. Aside from having a God-honoring, Christ-exalting mission that we are passionate about, I have the privilege of serving with some of the most amazing Christ-followers I have ever known.

  • Tuesday evening I drove by the church as I came in from an out-of-town trip. I was pleased to see the parking lot packed with cars. Two of our small groups (er, large groups) were meeting – and apparently having a blast!

  • Last night, (Wednesday), there were so many people at church that it looked like a special event – yet it was all very typical for us. The teenagers were meeting for their mid-week service, the children were meeting for their mid-week service, and a men’s group Bible study was taking place. From what I hear about the teens and children, it looks like things are rocking. As for the men’s bible study group – I sat in with the guys. Two new men showed up too. It really means something to crack open the Word of God and dig in.

  • Our small groups semester started this week. All I can say is we have some first-class people leading our groups. I have utmost confidence in every single one of them.

  • I will teaching Seminar 101 this Sunday afternoon. Right now we have 48 signed up. Wow!

  • Seminar 101 is one of the favorite things I do at PCC. I love meeting the new people in an informal setting, working the room, and outlining the mission and vision of PCC.

  • We have a seminar team who helps with this effort. This is a great group of people. I simply could not do it alone. It happens only because of these people. They prepare and serve food and refreshments, decorate the tables, set up & take-down, and “work the room” as hosts meeting all our newcomers. My heart simply swells with pride at what these people do.

  • Let me say something about harmony. I have never seen the level of harmony at PCC than what we are experiencing right now. It seems like everyone is happy and getting along. Every small group, every ministry team, and every staff member is happy.

  • The teenagers are really beginning to gel as a group too. No one seems to be “alone.” Friendships are being formed. This is how it is supposed to be.

  • Apparently a lot of the teenagers read my blog. This is something I was not aware of. I’m glad you do…. and I will be mindful of this in the future. I love the teenagers of PCC.

  • It is a joy for me to be “doing life” and “ministry” with people who I enjoy.

  • Pace Community Church….. YOU ROCK!

  • I never cease to be amazed at how God always seems to come through at just the right time with the answer we have been waiting for.

  • Someone gave an amazing first-time $ gift last Sunday. God is doing stuff at PCC.

  • The teen group has been studying the book of I Samuel chapter-by-chapter each week. Tonight they finished chapter 20. Wow! The kids have been learning and soaking up the WORD OF GOD. Most revealing is the fact they ask so many questions. There is a genuine interest and hunger for scripture.

  • I’m glad that we are making Jesus famous in all we do.

  • I’m glad to pastor a church that I would attend even if I were NOT the pastor

  • I’m glad to be part of a church where the children and teenagers LIKE TO GO and are not in a hurry to leave

  • I’m glad to attend a church where my wife and children love to attend

  • I’m glad that our congregation is giving and generous

  • I’m glad that I can mess up and people still love me and do not lose their confidence

  • One final shout out – the staff of PCC (both paid and volunteer) are some of the finest people you could ever know, and are some of the best church staff in the entire South East.

  • This is what I was meant for.


Whose Blogs Do I Read?


Let me state for the record. There are some blogs I DO NOT read, nor will I EVER read them. Why? The content is dopey and the authors are full of malarkey – that’s why.

So whose blogs do I read?
  • Those listed on the left sidebar of my blog
  • Several more who are not listed
  • 90% of the blogs I read are authored by church planters
  • I read blogs of church leaders that speak to me
  • I read the blogs of those who have something to say beyond theory
  • Those who I have a relationship with
  • People who I like

Blogs I don’t read:

  • People who don't like me - I won't read their blogs, even though they read mine
  • If your blog is too long, I’m not reading it
  • Those who parrot some off-the-wall theolgoy learned from a book
  • Those who speak lofty ideas about ministry but haven’t been able to make those ideas work .....(It's only a theory until you make it work. The proof is in the pudding - not in what you say or in a title you have been given).
  • Those who have a bone to pick with me (I'm bigger than that).

Why do I blog?

  • When I first started blogging I simply needed another outlet. I love to write and this was one way I could improve my skills
  • It has helped me clarify my thoughts and postion on important issues
  • In some ways, it is like an on-line journal
  • I have met and made many new friends
  • It enables me to expand my teaching


Wednesday


Got back home last night about 7:00 PM.

I will be posting later today.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tuesday - Still in Birmingham



  • Okay. I didn't get good pictures last night at the conference. This rinky-dink digital camera I have just doesn't take good pictures unless I'm outside in the sunlight. Will take some toDAY.
  • Chris Tomlin was the worship leader last night. He and his band did an acoustic worship set - two acoustic guitars and one keyboard - three instruments was all they had. It was all they needed. The guy can sing. About 1500-1800 people were in the service.
  • Renae and I have been having pretty good workouts while here. We're getting up early (just like at home) and starting the day off with some serious exercise. We have been walking, running, lifting weights, and even using a treadmill. We don't have our bicycles here though.
  • Birmingham is a beautiful city. I've been here several times before, usually at church-leadership related events, and am always impressed with the city's beauty. Especially the landscaping. It seems like they hold nothing back. Even the churches pull out all the stops for their campus grounds and landscaping. It is obvious that the churches here take a great deal of care (and pride) in their community and appearance of God's House. I'm impressed.
  • I've just got to say there are some good things happening at PCC right now - much of which is obvious, and a lot which is not so obvious. Just beneath the surface God is doing so many different (and life-changing) works of transformation that it blows me away. Every time I hear a new story/testimony, I'm just left with my mouth hanging open.
  • I feel a bit remiss in not telling you these things more often - but honestly, there is more going on that I can even keep up with, much less communicate all of it. All I can say is GET PLUGGED IN and you won't be left out.
  • I’m praying for 100 people to cross the line of faith and commit their lives to Jesus Christ between now and Christmas.

  • I’m praying for 50 MORE people to sign the maturity covenant, committing themselves to the five basic habits of a disciple.
  • Did you know that 50% of our congregation (and church family) is involved in some type spiritual growth activity in addition to the Sunday morning worship service? That's right. When we add up all the volunteers, small group members, Bible classes, teachers, small group leaders, and servants who are actively DOING SOMETHING with their Christianity, MORE THAN 50% of our church family is involved. That's what I would call a HEALTHY CHURCH.
  • At PCC, we are trying to produce disciples who actually DO STUFF.

That's all for now. Got to run. Will post again, possibly today with pictures.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Monday Memo

Okay, okay, I’m a day late… so here goes.

  • I’m in Birmingham AL right now. Renae and I drove here yesterday immediately after second service - (that’s why I didn’t post yesterday). Once we got here, we were able to attend a Sunday evening service at “The Church at Brook Hills.” It is a large church with an amazing campus – buildings all over the place. There were about 600-700 people in attendance – mostly 20-something and 30-something year olds. The Sunday morning attendance is a couple thousand. The pastor is 29 years old.

  • We are attending a conference at this church. I will be taking pictures and will post them here on my blog.

  • Did you know my blog counter had 1000 hits in the last week? And I haven’t been saying much of anything. Have you missed me that much? It’s good to be so loved…. Or perhaps I am hated.

  • Attendance was good Sunday. A lot of visitors. Where are all these people coming from week after week? It is simply amazing – I don’t get it. It has to be God.

  • Finished part 3 of the Prodigal Son series. This series worked! Solidly Biblical, with life-application.

  • Last Sunday morning I spoke impromptu (and unexpectedly) about “Being Conscious of Eternity.” If you were there, you know what prompted the talk and what its content was about. Dozens of you have asked if it got recorded, and the answer is YES. Fortunately for us, the sound techs had the presence of mind to recognize that the Spirit of God was re-directing the service and starting recording. WE ARE MAKING THESE CDs AVAILABLE FOR FREE. In fact, we have already given out about 50. Next Sunday morning stop by the Welcome Center and pick up a copy…. make copies, duplicate it, give them away.

  • Jesus did not die so we could attend some amazing Bible studies. He died so we could be right with God. I love Bible studies, and small groups. I’ve been attending them at PCC for ten years without a break. Most of the time I attend two each week. Again, He died so we could be right with God and go to heaven.

  • I’ve been reflecting on Sunday’s sermon. I’m still contemplating on two thoughts (1) Those who refuse to go in and will not participate in heavens joy over a sinner coming home, must accept the reality that they may be excluding themselves from God’s kingdom, (2) The younger brother broke away from the fathers house, while the elder brother broke fellowship IN the fathers house. His sin was more grievous.

  • Our volunteers are simply first-class. I am very proud of them.

  • Small groups start this week. It is amazing how many new people have signed up for them. And our small group leaders – what can I say? Some of the best we’ve ever had.

  • Man, we have an amazing team at PCC.

  • Final Thought: God loves the lost people of SR County JUST AS MUCH as He loves the lost people in a foreign land. Our community IS our mission field.

  • Keep checking back, I hope to be posting a few pictures of this church.





Saturday, September 6, 2008

Saturday


It's been a tough week for a lot of people.... My blogs have been short as a result.

Check in tomorrow for "Sunday Seven."

Beginning Monday, I will resume full force.


Friday, September 5, 2008

Upcoming Messages


This Sunday (Sept 7) - "The Sin of the Elder Brother" - Part 3 of the Prodigal Son series


Fall Family Round-Up Series Begins

Sept 14 - "Get Your Family In Church" (Subtitle: And Keep Them There)

Sept 21 - "Is Anybody Going to Heaven Because of You?"

Sept 28 - "Your Church - An Extended Family"

Thursday, September 4, 2008

20,000 Hits


Twenty Thousand hits.... That's 20,000 thank-yous for checking in.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Funeral Announcement


Nathan Melton's funeral

Viewing
- Immanuel Baptist Church 6-8 PM Friday

Funeral
- Immanuel Baptist Church 2 PM Saturday

Immanuel Baptist Church
4187 Highway 90 Pace, FL 32571

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Ten Reasons I Give an Invitation Each Sunday


You may have noticed that almost every Sunday I give an invitation, encouraging people to commit their lives to Jesus Christ. These invitations take on different forms (i.e., silent prayer, raising hands, repeat-after-me prayers, come forward, altar call, etc) - but it's almost always there. Even when I am talking to "the church" I still give an invitation. Why? Why do this every single Sunday?

Here's why
:

Adapted from Craig Groschel
  • This may be the first, or last, time a person may ever set foot in a church.

  • I believe the Holy Spirit prepares people, and draws them to our church, and their hearts are receptive to receive.

  • Even a lot of church-people don’t fully understand the gospel and need to get truly born-again.

  • Some people trust the church, (or its ordinances), for salvation rather than the Savior, Christ.

  • Seeing others getting saved gives believers another reason to worship and provides a motivation to witness.

  • New Christians can “light our church on fire.”

  • Angels in heaven rejoice when one sinner repents (Luke 15:10).

  • Hell is a real place and the consequences are too high to not offer an invitation.

  • I care deeply about people.

  • Entire families and workplace environments can be impacted when just one person meets Christ.

It's no wonder that God keeps sending people to PCC - He knows that a godly church filled with godly people are creating a warm enviroment (like an incubator) in which "new births" will occur.